How to Treat Shock - First Aid Training - St John Ambulance

Author: St John Ambulance

Shock is a serious life-threatening condition that happens when vital organs in the body are not getting enough blood flow and this can lead to failure of these organs and the heart. Shock can be caused by anything that reduces the circulation of blood flow such as, severe bleeding which you may be able to see or it may be hidden or internal. If the heart is unable to pump blood around the body after problems like a heart attack, severe heart disease or heart failure. Loss of bodily fluid following severe vomiting, diarrhoea or severe burns. After a severe allergic reaction or severe infection.

And following a spinal cord injury. These conditions may all lead to life-threatening shock. When someone is in shock they may have a fast pulse, pale, cold or clammy skin, sweating, fast shallow breathing, gray-blue skin especially inside the lips, weakness and dizziness, nausea and possible vomiting, thirst.

As the shock becomes more severe, they may have a weak pulse that you may not be able to feel, restless and aggressive behaviour, gasping for air. They may become unresponsive. To treat for shock you need to try to reverse the cause of shock. If you find severe bleeding or serious burns try to treat these whilst reassuring the casualty. Help the casualty to lie down. If possible try to lie them down on a rug or blanket, as this will help protect them from the cold.

Raise and support their legs above the level of their heart as this will increase blood flow to the head and vital organs, but if the casualty has an injured leg do not raise it. If the casualty is pregnant help them to lie with their body leaning towards their left side to prevent the obstruction of the blood flow returning to the heart. If you haven't done so already call 999 or 112, and tell ambulance control that you suspect shock.

How to Treat Shock - First Aid Training - St John Ambulance

Once you have called for emergency help, you can then loosen any tight clothing around their neck chest and waist. Stay with the casualty and keep them warm by covering them with a blanket or coats. Try to reassure them and keep them calm. Keep monitoring their level of response. If they become unresponsive, open the airway check their breathing and be prepared to treat someone who is unresponsive.

So remember, if you think someone is in shock treat the cause of shock, lay them down and raise their legs, call 999 or 112 for emergency help, loosen any tight clothing and keep them warm and calm. Monitor their level of response. And that's how we treat shock. If this video has been helpful to you help support St John Ambulance by going sja.org.uk/donate.

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